2015 WholeLife Luncheon

wholelife luncheon

2015 Laura Sampson Community Award Honorees from Left to Right:

Dr. Sippi Khurana, Elaine Turner, Alden Clark and the Reverend Michael Gott, Jindi Vincent (former President ofThe Women’s Energy Network)

Late on the sunny morning of Friday June 5, 280 guests gathered at the Houstonian Hotel for our 2015 WholeLife Luncheon featuring author Carine McCandless. Emceed by The Women’s Home Advisory Board Member and Great Day Houston Host Deborah Duncan, the luncheon began with thanks to sponsors before recognizing our 2015 Laura Sampson Community Award Honorees.  Recognized for their philanthropic dedication to their communities, our 2015 honorees were Dr. Sippi KhuranaElaine TurnerAlden Clark and the Reverend Michael Gott and The Women’s Energy Network. The Women’s Home Executive Director Paula Paust then announced our 2015 WholeLife® Award Winner, Bryson Blair. The WholeLife Award goes to a graduate of The Women’s Home Treatment and Transitional Housing program who has flourished in her life and recovery. Bryson’s perseverance, bravery and honesty embody what it means to live a whole life.

Carine McCandless took the podium for the final portion of the luncheon, where she told the story of her brother, Chris McCandless also known as Alexander Supertramp, who was first made famous by Jon Krakauer’s book Into the Wild. Carine explained how the longer she spoke about her brother’s story at engagements and schools, where her candid honesty with students regularly led one in the crowd to come privately to her for help, the more she felt compelled to come forth with the whole story. This led to the writing of her memoir, The Wild Truth, which details how a childhood marked by domestic violence both emotional and physical, deeply shaped both her and Chris’s lives.

Carine explained that while her brother was drawn more and more to the wilderness for refuge from their family struggles, she found herself driven to the city and involved in relationships that mirrored the violence of her family home. When faced with these difficult situations, Carine invoked the image of two roads, one clear, straight and smooth, but somehow unsettling, the other winding and potholed, but with signs of promise for the journey ahead. Carine committed to the harder more rewarding path at each turn in her life and found success.

Carine’s story shows the same determination and indomitable spirit she recognizes in her brother. Time and again she found the strength to leave toxic relationships and the commitment to go through school, to run her own business, and begin a family she never expected to have.

Guests of the luncheon each received a signed copy of Carine’s memoir, The Wild Truth and had the opportunity to speak with Carine and have their book personalized after the program. Guests also bid on silent auction items provided by presenting sponsor Morton Auctioneers & Appraisers, 2015 honoree and bronze sponsor Elaine Turner, and fashion boutique Lucho. Attendees raised over $85,000 that will go towards helping women like Bryson build whole lives.

Donate to The Women’s Home and reNew Your Wardrobe!

reNew Collage

Tickets for our 6th annual reNew & reDo Fashion Show and Shopping Event are now on sale! With our biggest shopping event of the year on the horizon we are calling all Houston’s most fashionable men and women to clean out their couture closets for the cause.

Months before the show, we begin gathering the high fashion and designer clothing, shoes, handbags, and accessories for men and women from brands including Gucci, Prada, Dior, Chanel, and Michael Kors that will grace the racks and the runway in August. Couture comes from personal closets as well as boutique donations gathered from our friends and neighbors in the community.

If you have gently used designer styles in your closet that are looking for a new life, please contribute to making this year’s reNew & reDo bigger and better than ever by donating them to The Cottage Shop. Have an organization you’re a part of that’s interested in holding a clothing drive? Contact Chau Nguyen atcnguyen@thewomenshome.org or 713-328-1950.

Building Healthy Outcomes

WholeLife 3-24-14

Our quarterly outcome reports are an integral part to maintaining the quality of our programs and ensuring that we make the best impact possible on the lives of our residents in both our treatment and transitional program in Montrose and our supportive housing complex, Jane Cizik Garden Place (JCGP) in Spring Branch. Our outcome reports breakdown the demographics of our current clients, recent graduates and residents and serve as important tools to maintain diversity in those we serve and track what services are most needed by our residents at Jane Cizik Garden Place.

Our outcome reports for Jane Cizik Garden Place track the case management services used by residents, with the goal that each household at JCGP has at least one interaction with our case managers. Our case managers at JCGP provide residents connections with a variety of services including transportation, rent processing assistance and connection to community events. Monitoring these services ensures our residents get the support they need and seek from JCGP. (See chart below.)

building healthy outcomes

At the end of the first quarter of 2015, our treatment and transitional housing program had an occupancy of 92% with 59 clients, up from last year’s 86% occupancy and on track for our goal of consistently having a 95% occupancy level. Our admissions Coordinator Michelle Carey-Redic received 208 phone intake calls in the first quarter, referring 159 of those callers to programs that better fit their needs and meeting in person with 34 women for intake appointments. Our treatment program focuses specifically on aiding women who are homeless and facing mental illness, addiction or both, but we receive many calls from potential clients who do not match our services. Callers such as women seeking immediate shelter for themselves and their children, women without history of mental illness or addiction, or women who are still in the first 90 days of their sobriety are referred to organizations that can help. This screening process ensures potential residents are given the best chance of success from the beginning by placing them with programs best equipped to assist them.

In the first quarter, eight of our treatment and transitional housing clients graduated our treatment and transitional housing program after staying at least 6 months. All eight graduates left with income as well as permanent housing 100% of our treatment and transitional housing program’s graduates left with income as well as permanent housing. Having all of our graduating residents leave with housing and income is one of our main goals for ensuring our graduates leave the program with stable lives and the best chance for long-term success.

Help us Help Houston Women and Families

As friends and supporters of The Women’s Home, you already know of our successes in changing the lives of Houston women. Many of you have heard about our newest project, an 84 unit apartment complex for families as well as a WholeLife® Service Center in Spring Branch down the street from our first housing complex, Jane Cizik Garden Place, this exciting development will enable us to transform the lives of hundreds of families in the Spring Branch community. We’ve raised over $21 million for these two projects’ capital campaign, but we still have $5 million to raise to meet our goal.

This will be a dynamic year of growth for The Women’s Home as we break ground on these two new projects and expand our operations. We need your support now more than ever. In addition to preparing for the operational needs of our new facilities, we will be adding a couple of key positions to ensure the continued quality of our programs. The new positions include a dedicated volunteer manager and a part time professional committed to continuous quality improvement of all programs. In addition, our administrative staff is hard at work developing programs, procedures and strategic focus for the future. Throughout planning for these new developments, we continue to focus on smooth operations for both our treatment and transitional program and our permanent supportive housing community.

Most importantly, we are changing the future for the women we serve!

We could not achieve this exciting new growth or the lifelong changes it enables for our clients without your help. Every gift supports our work providing our residents with the assistance and training they need to live independent fulfilling lives. With each gift, you make a meaningful contribution essential to rebuilding the lives of desperate Houston women.

Every donation, big and small, helps change the lives of the women we serve, please click the donate button at the top right of our website to make your contribution today.

3,000 Square Feet of Fashion

3000 ft fashion

Thursday April 16, 2015, a group of fashionistas got an exclusive glimpse at reNew & reDo 2015 Fashion Icon Theresa Roemer’s closet. A towering three stories and 3,000 square feet of clothing, shoes and accessories encased in spotless glass on gleaming white shelves served as the backdrop for the evening as the party carried on unhindered by the evening’s storm. Designer and high fashion donations from guests were piled high in the entryway, the donated clothing, shoes, and accessories will be sorted and stored to go on the runway and on sale at reNew.

Guests were there not only to see Theresa’s expansive couture collection but also to get involved and get excited about our upcoming reNew & reDo style show in August. reNew & reDo is The Women’s Home annual fashion show and high fashion clothing sale at the Wortham Theater Center, the proceeds from which go to support our programs and residents. In 2014, reNew & reDo raised over $130,000 with 21 volunteer models strutting the runway in ensembles composed by design team Lenny Matuszewski and Tamara Bonar for a sold out audience of 600 guests. After the show, the featured fashions were rolled out to join the rest of the boutique merchandise in the pop up Cottage Shop where guests wasted no time in finding and purchasing their favorites.

After our 2014 show’s fantastic reception and performance, we’re determined to outdo ourselves in 2015 and we hope you’ll join us!

Dress for Success & Paradigm2Women Empower our Residents to be Professional

Dress for Success

Dress for Success Houston has been helping Houston women attain economic independence by providing professional attire, a network of support and career development tools to women in need since 1988. Saturday April 25th, a group of volunteers from Dress for Success Houston, led by Dorothy Prejean, a Project Manager for 2015’s Community Action Project: Paradigm2Women, helped residents from our treatment and transitional program find their style for success. “It was my honor and privilege to be a part of the planning and execution for the 2015 Community Action Project: ‘Paradigm2Women.’ The pleasure to work with the staff and women at The Women’s Home was very rewarding. I walked away with an overwhelming feeling of joy and happiness for the success of the project.” Dorothy said.

The day began bright and early with residents coming in their professional best in outfits donated by Dress for Success the day before. A volunteer provided make-up and hair guidance before residents took professional photos suitable for job applications and business profiles. After photos, the residents were each given a personal introduction and the chance to walk the meeting room runway while volunteers read the residents’ bios to the group. After a brief overview and introduction of the day’s agenda, the residents participated in three educational panels on different subjects including how to re-enter the workforce with confidence, how to present your skills in an interview, and diversity in the workplace.

“The presentations were very informative and I took quite a bit of information from that entire day. Thank you so much for that wonderful opportunity it was greatly appreciated!” Sarah* one of our residents said about CAP day. After the workshops, residents were able to ask questions in a Q & A session. One of the event speakers, Mustafaa Carroll stated, “I was quite impressed by their focus on helping women to become employable, employed, and in effect rebuild their lives. Everything I witnessed from beginning to end was positive, and upbeat.”

The group broke for lunch along with an impromptu dance party before the day closed with a gift raffle and certificates for the days’ participants. The residents enjoyed the dedication of the volunteers and appreciated the information and consideration they received. “They served us and it just felt amazing that they wanted to do it for us. I appreciate each and every one of the volunteers.” Laura*, a resident said of her CAP day experience.

*In order to protect our residents from stigma, names have been changed.

Speaking Out in the Community

Mental Health

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, which began in 1949 as a way to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illnesses and bring the voices of those living with mental illness into the conversation. As a part of our dedication to building whole lives, The Women’s Home and our staff are dedicated to speaking out in our community and helping others become ambassadors for mental health in their lives. This May, our highly trained staff have been empowering not only our residents, but also our neighbors in the community to have the courage and the knowledge to combat misinformation about mental health and become active advocates for supportive care and treatment.

One of our Clinical and Chemical Dependency Counselor’s, Theresa Allen, spoke on the impact of domestic violence on the lives of women and their mental health at the Her VOICE: Ladies Leading Ladies’ The Secret is Out…Now What? 1st Annual Community Luncheon Fundraiser in April. Shana D. Lewis, the Executive Director and founder of Her VOICE, hoped that attendees of the luncheon would leave “with the conviction that it is your duty to recognize, act, and respond to domestic violence.” Domestic violence affects the lives of 1 in 5 women according to Her VOICE’s research, and the ensuing trauma can have lasting effects and increase the risk for mental illness and addiction. Theresa explained to luncheon guests the cyclical effect domestic abuse can have, how people recognize warning signs and what can be done to intervene safely, and how The Home’s treatment and transitional housing program works with residents to break the cycle of abuse and build healthy relationships as a part of their recovery.

May 16, 2015, our Director of Programs, Katherine Broussard-Barner spoke specifically on the challenges and issues surrounding women’s mental health at the Omicron Gamma Zeta Chapter (OGZ) of Zeta Phi Beta, Inc. Sorority’s annual scholarship luncheon, Parade of Salads. OGZ chose mental health as the focus of their luncheon because of the increased coverage of mental illness in the media and the rising urgency for awareness and treatment. Mental health ties into Zeta Phi Beta, Inc.’s national Z-Hope program which encourages local chapters to address and serve the needs in their community. OGZ asked Katherine to be their luncheon speaker after learning about The Women’s Home and Katherine’s expertise on mental health through the Houston Walk for Mental Health Awareness.

“We hope to inspire those in attendance to be ambassadors in the community on educating those within their circle on understanding what mental illness is, the agencies available to assist those in need, and a compassion to help those in need get treatment.” OGZ Second Vice President Adrian Hunt said regarding the goal of the luncheon.

Katherine shared the mission and vision of The Women’s Home and detailed not only the work we do in serving women with our treatment and transitional housing program, but also our supportive housing complex Jane Cizik Garden Place (JCGP) in Spring Branch and our two current projects: a housing facility for families and the WholeLife® Service Center which will be down the street from JCGP.

On mental health, Katherine discussed our need as a community to address our fear of mental illness and those who live with it, to move beyond our apprehension of the unknown and approach mental health with compassion and the desire to learn to help not hide. She discussed how women are more often diagnosed with mental illness, for a number of reasons, including women’s higher exposure to trauma as well as how gender bias means lower diagnosis of illnesses like depression in men. She addressed how the stigma those with mental illness face is fed by misconceptions that those with mental illnesses are violent or a danger to the community, rather than the reality that 1 in 5 Americans live with mental illness.

She encouraged attendees be supportive of loved ones living with mental illness and respond to their diagnosis with the same compassion and empathy they might show if it was another chronic condition such as diabetes. Katherine also stressed the importance of listening, of starting conversations not just about mental illness and treatment, but with those living with a mental illness. “We all have a story, we all have a past. Some of our stories are more packed than others, we have to be willing to listen to individuals and unpack their stories.”

 

TWH Residents Experience Fun and Exciting Events Thanks to Miller Outdoor Theatre, Alley Theatre & TUTS

Miller Theater May 14

The growing efforts of The Women’s Home are all tied together by our comprehensive and very effective WholeLife? model, which addresses the emotional / mental, physical, social, spiritual, vocational, and financial wellness of our clients and residents.

Of course, there are many aspects to social wellness, but some of the more fun and exciting happenings for our residents come as they attend various community theater and arts events.  Says Crystal, a recent graduate of The Home, “The generosity of donors that allowed us to go to cultural events was incredible.  It helped us to appreciate social settings and interact in true life situations again.”

One such outing will be over Memorial Day weekend, at the annual Dancin’ in the Street…Motown and more at Miller Outdoor Theatre.  A holiday tradition for many Houstonians and tourists, this soul-stirring revue has been a staple in the Miller Outdoor Theatre production season for over 18 years.  Dancin’ in the Street features many of Houston’s most talented vocalists and dancers, accompanied by the Bacement Soul Orchestra.

This year, The Cottage Shop staff worked with the producers of the exciting production by providing costuming for the sets of classic Motown hits.  Brilliant gowns and accessories from The Shop will be featured in many of the finger-popping numbers.  In exchange, the residents will be treated to great seats, down front and ushered in like VIP’s.  The Women’s Home will be listed as one of the main sponsors for the event, giving the agency exposure to an enormous group of fun-loving, community-minded, soulful Houstonians.

 

Another partnership is with the Alley Theatre and their community outreach brnch called AlleyWays.  Incredible and deeply discounted group ticket purchases have allowed our residents to be front and center every year for A Christmas Carol, often with enough tickets to include family guests.  There is always another performance where staff accompanies our lucky ladies to see some of Houston’s finest theatre.  Just as a note, the outreach will be suspended while the Alley undergoes exciting and inviting renovations for the 2014-2015 season.

 

And we can’t forget TUTS and their generous invitations to see first-rate musicals that leave our residents glowing.  Performances of Man of La Mancha, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Meet Me in St. Louis have all been part of the broad selection.

La Maison Apartments Clean House for The Cottage Shop

Interior garage sale, housewares, clothing, slorting goods and toys.

Spring is a season of renewal, a time to take stock and clear away the clutter of the past year, making it perfect timing for La Maison Apartment’s monthly giving event to partner with The Women’s Home’s Cottage Shop. The beginning of spring marks the time when many of its 400-plus residents clean house, getting rid of everything from clothing to small household items. So what better charity to donate to than The Women’s Home’s Cottage Shop?

When the staff sent the announcement for tenants to clean out their closets and bring donations to the downstairs office, La Maison wasn’t sure what they would receive. But on the day of the Spring Donation Drive, the response was positive. La Maison’s Sunday afternoon Spring Cleaning Drive proved to be a huge success. Bags and bags of clothing filled a room, stuffed with clothes, purses, coats and much much more. There were even small items like lamps and frames collected.

La Maison is a luxury apartment community nestled in River Oaks, with many of its tenants are urban professionals. We are so grateful for Apartment communities like La Maison for donation drives like these.

If you live in an apartment community, we would love to hear from you on how we can help set up a similar drive for your apartment neighbors. Please contact Chau Nguyen, Manager of Community Involvement at cnguyen@thewomenshome.org or at 713-328-1950.

What is Brown Bag?

Michael Pearce

Michael Pearce, one of our January Brown bag speakers

Having healthy connections to resources and role models in our community is an important aspect of our WholeLife Program. In our treatment and transitional housing program we foster community involvement with our residents every Friday through our Brown Bag Luncheons. Fridays at noon, our treatment and transitional housing residents bring their sack lunches and gather in the upstairs conference room of our 607 Westheimer office to hear presentations by different speakers each week. Our wide variety of speakers vary from individuals who have valuable insights or resources for our clients, to organizations providing important information on subjects such as physical wellness, job interview skills, or credit management.

One of our recurring speakers is The Women’s Fund for Health Education and Resilience whose representatives talk on a variety of health, nutrition and wellness subjects. One of our January speakers, Michael Pearce, an attorney with Schlumberger, shared struggles and triumphs from his own life covering dealing with recovery from alcoholism as well as his struggles with body image and coming to terms with his sexuality. In February, Lisa Feronda talked about how running became a form of therapy for her and that leaving her position as a news anchor for channel 11 helped her find her purpose with her current work at Legacy Community Health Services. In April one of our speakers, Pierre Silvy shared insights he’s gained about customer service after over 50 years working in the hair salon industry.

The Women’s Home is always looking for insightful, engaging and empathetic speakers for our Brown Bag lunches. If you are interested or know someone who would be a good fit, please contact our Volunteer & Collaborations Coordinator Jenna Jackson at jjackson@thewomenshome.org or 713-568-1356 for more information.